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April 9 2011

5:43 PM

Feliz cumpleaños, Seve

By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- He's been on everyone's minds for two years now.

But today? There will be more than a few wishes and trans-Atlantic shout-outs sent to Seve Ballesteros on his 54th birthday.

You can't walk onto the grounds without thinking about the passion, drama and talent Ballesteros brought to the game -- and the Masters. And his absence is palpable.

Battling brain cancer at his home in Spain, Ballesteros hasn't been far from his countrymen's thoughts and defending champion Phil Mickelson honored him by serving paella at the Past Champions dinner Tuesday night.

"All of the past champions are really thinking about Seve," Mickelson said. "Honoring Seve is easy and no big deal. I just want him to know we all wish he was here and we are thinking about him."

The two-time champ has been in focus too because he was an integral part of Jack Nicklaus' 1986 Masters win. Nicklaus had to pass Ballesteros, who still had a chance down the stretch that year. And, even though he's not here, he's still has a page in the player’s guide.

As for the players? The Spanish players have all mentioned him this week. The same for the European players.

"Seve is constantly in my thoughts at Augusta,” Westwood said. “Because Billy  (Foster, his caddie) never stops mentioning him, and the stuff he did, and where he got it up and down from when he caddied for him there.

“I’m sure when Billy formulates his game-plan and talks me round, a lot of it comes from what he’s learned from Seve, and the way Seve played it. He’s not so much in my mind, but Billy certainly puts him there. And it can’t hurt, can it?”

And then there was Alvaro Quiros. Friday afternoon, a  reporter asked him to wish Ballesteros Happy Birthday. In English, not Spanish.

Quiros looked into the camera and said: "Happy birthday, Seve. Sorry it's in English."

We'll make up for it.

Feliz cumpleaños, Seve.

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